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Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente.

Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente.

Margaret Wente

A Trump presidency: It might not be all bad Add to ...

I was in the Y the other day, in the women’s locker room. Everybody was in mourning. Some people had begun to prepare for the worst. “We could set up abortion clinics right across the border,” I overheard one woman say. The others nodded in agreement.

Their anxiety was understandable, but perhaps premature. I honestly don’t think President Donald Trump will order a wholesale rollback of women’s rights. (If the abortion issue ever is kicked back to the states, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.)

Nor do I think he’s Hitler, an analogy that’s been casually invoked by folks who are obviously clueless about history. (Apart from anything else, daughter Ivanka is an Orthodox Jew.) He’s not even a third-rate fascist. He’s more like Silvio Berlusconi – with infinitely more power to make mischief.

Mr. Trump might even do a few good things. Here are some.

He’ll boost the economy in the short run. Tax cuts and massive infrastructure spending will guarantee it. Even The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman – an implacable Trump foe – says so. “An accidental, badly designed stimulus would still, in the short run, be better than no stimulus at all,” he admitted grudgingly.

American infrastructure is in awful shape. Better airports, highways and major upgrades to the electricity grid are long overdue. Besides, infrastructure spending is exactly what our Prime Minister wants to do. So how can it possibly be bad?

He’ll approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Hey! Didn’t Justin Trudeau want Barack Obama to do that?

He’ll get rid of a lot of stupid regulations that make it hard for small businesses to get off the ground – and he’ll inspire the states to do the same. Do you really need a cosmetology licence (1,600 hours of training at an accredited school, plus a state exam) to do hair braiding? Maybe not.

He’ll get rid of the social-justice crusaders in Washington who dictate bathroom policies to local schools. And he’ll stop going after religious groups like Little Sisters of the Poor that don’t want to hand out free birth control.

He’ll roll back the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which made preventing campus sexual assault a key issue for the Obama administration. The result was the creation of kangaroo courts without due process, as well as a vast administrative apparatus to deal with matters that rightly belong in the criminal courts. This is not a setback for women’s rights. It’s a setback for the rape-crisis hysteria that’s swept across our schools of higher learning. It’s a setback for the notion that campus bureaucrats are equipped to deal with the sexual and emotional lives of their adult students.

He’ll keep Washington out of the business of micromanaging local schools. The No Child Left Behind Act, introduced in 2002 by the Bush administration, had the noblest of intentions but was a disaster for everyone concerned. It introduced an era of test craziness and much gaming of the system, without any meaningful improvement in student achievement. A sweeping rewrite of the law has shifted power back to the states. Mr. Trump will keep it there. He’s a fan of charter schools – a much better idea.

He’ll stop the flow of U.S. funds to Palestinian terrorists, via aid money that goes to the Palestinian government and Hamas. Not everyone believes that would be a good thing, but I do.

Mr. Trump will essentially repeal everything that Mr. Obama did on climate change. This may make less difference than you think – and it may inspire a much-needed dose of climate realism. The non-enforceable Paris accord is basically no more than a statement of good intentions. The coal mines aren’t coming back anyway. Climate realists (who aren’t the same as climate deniers – see Bjorn Lomborg and the Breakthrough Institute, for example) acknowledge the man-made influence on the climate, but also correctly point out that only extraordinary technological breakthroughs will significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. In the meantime, we’d better think harder about adaptation – unless you think China and India will be content to forgo all hope of a decent living standard for their 2.5 billion-plus populations.

He won’t repeal gay marriage. He said so.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the election of Mr. Trump is a disaster. But there’s enough to catastrophize about without adding to the list. Breathe deeply, and think happy thoughts!

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